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He looked at me, and I at him; there were questions in the eyes of both
of us. But between parting from the police-sergeant and meeting Mr.
Lindsey, I had made up my mind, by a bit of sharp thinking and
reflection, on what my own plan of action was going to be about all this,
once and for all, and I spoke before he could ask anything.

"Chisholm," said I, "was down that way, wondering could he hear word of
Crone's being seen with anybody last night. I saw Crone last night. I
went to his shop, buying some bits of old stuff. He was all right then - I
saw nothing. Chisholm - he says Crone was a poacher. That would account,
likely, for his being out there."

"Aye!" said Mr. Lindsey. "But - they say there's marks of violence on the
body. And - the long and short of it is, my lad!" he went on, first
interrupting himself, and then giving me an odd look; "the long and short
of it is, it's a queer thing that Crone should have come by his death
close to the spot where you found yon man Phillips! There may be nothing
but coincidence in it - but there's no denying it's a queer thing. Go and
order a conveyance, and we'll drive out yonder."

In pursuance of the determination I had come to, I said no more about
Crone to Mr. Lindsey. I had made up my mind on a certain course, and
until it was taken I could not let out a word of what was by that time
nobody's secret but mine to him, nor to any one - not even to Maisie
Dunlop, to whom, purposely, I had not as yet said anything about my
seeing Sir Gilbert Carstairs on the night of Phillips's murder. And all
the way out to the inn there was silence between Mr. Lindsey and me, and
the event of the morning, about Gilverthwaite's will, and the odd
circumstance of its attestation by Michael Carstairs, was not once
mentioned. We kept silence, indeed, until we were in the place to which
they had carried Crone's dead body. Mr. Murray and Sergeant Chisholm had
got there before us, and with them was a doctor - the same that had been
fetched to Phillips - and they were all talking together quietly when we
went in. The superintendent came up to Mr. Lindsey.

"According to what the doctor here says," he whispered, jerking his head
at the body, which lay on a table with a sheet thrown over it, "there's a
question as to whether the man met his death by drowning. Look here!"

He led us up to the table, drew back the sheet from the head and face,
and motioning the doctor to come up, pointed to a mark that was just
between the left temple and the top of the ear, where the hair was
wearing thin.

"D'ye see that, now?" he murmured. "You'll notice there's some sort of a
weapon penetrated there - penetrated! But the doctor can say more than I
can on that point."

"The man was struck - felled - by some sort of a weapon," said the doctor.
"It's penetrated, I should say from mere superficial examination, to the
brain. You'll observe there's a bruise outwardly - aye, but this has been
a sharp weapon as well, something with a point, and there's the
puncture - how far it may extend I can't tell yet. But on the surface of
things, Mr. Lindsey, I should incline to the opinion that the poor
fellow was dead, or dying, when he was thrown into yon pool. Anyway,
after a blow like that, he'd be unconscious. But I'm thinking he was dead
before the water closed on him."

Mr. Lindsey looked closer at the mark, and at the hole in the
centre of it.

"Has it struck any of you how that could be caused?" he asked suddenly.
"It hasn't? Then I'll suggest something to you. There's an implement in
pretty constant use hereabouts that would do just that - a salmon gaff!"

The two police officials started - the doctor nodded his head.

"Aye, and that's a sensible remark," said he. "A salmon gaff would just
do it." He turned to Chisholm with a sharp look. "You were saying this
man was suspected of poaching?" he asked. "Likely it'll have been some
poaching affair he was after last night - him and others. And they may
have quarrelled and come to blows - and there you are!"

"Were there any signs of an affray close by - or near, on the bank?" asked
Mr. Lindsey.

"We're going down there now ourselves to have a look round," answered Mr.
Murray. "But according to Turndale, the body was lying in a deep pool in
the Till, under the trees on the bank - it might have lain there for many
a month if it hadn't been for yon young McIlwraith that has a turn for
prying into dark and out-of-the-way corners. Well, here's more matter for
the coroner."

Mr. Lindsey and I went back to Berwick after that. And, once more, he
said little on the journey, except that it would be well if it came out
that this was but a poaching affair in which Crone had got across with
some companion of his; and for the rest of the afternoon he made no
further remark to me about the matter, nor about the discovery of the
morning. But as I was leaving the office at night, he gave me a word.

"Say nothing about that will, to anybody," said he. "I'll think that
matter over to-night, and see what'll come of my thinking. It's as I said
before, Hugh - to get at the bottom of all this, we'll have to go
back - maybe a far way."

I said nothing and went home. For now I had work of my own - I was going
to what I had resolved on after Chisholm told me the news about Crone. I
would not tell my secret to Mr. Lindsey, nor to the police, nor even to
Maisie. I would go straight and tell it to the one man whom it
concerned - Sir Gilbert Carstairs. I would speak plainly to him, and be
done with it. And as soon as I had eaten my supper, I mounted my bicycle,
and, as the dusk was coming on, rode off to Hathercleugh House.




CHAPTER XIII

SIR GILBERT CARSTAIRS


It was probably with a notion of justifying my present course of
procedure to myself that during that ride I went over the reasons which
had kept my tongue quiet up to that time, and now led me to go to Sir
Gilbert Carstairs. Why I had not told the police nor Mr. Lindsey of what
I had seen, I have already explained - my own natural caution and reserve
made me afraid of saying anything that might cast suspicion on an
innocent man; and also I wanted to await developments. I was not
concerned much with that feature of the matter. But I had undergone some
qualms because I had not told Maisie Dunlop, for ever since the time at
which she and I had come to a serious and sober understanding, it had
been a settled thing between us that we would never have any secrets from
each other. Why, then, had I not told her of this? That took a lot of
explaining afterwards, when things so turned out that it would have been
the best thing ever I did in my life if I only had confided in her; but
this explanation was, after all, to my credit - I did not tell Maisie
because I knew that, taking all the circumstances into consideration, she
would fill herself with doubts and fears for me, and would for ever be
living in an atmosphere of dread lest I, like Phillips, should be found
with a knife-thrust in me. So much for that - it was in Maisie's own
interest. And why, after keeping silence to everybody, did I decide to
break it to Sir Gilbert Carstairs? There, Andrew Dunlop came in - of
course, unawares to himself. For in those lecturings that he was so fond
of giving us young folk, there was a moral precept of his kept cropping
up which he seemed to set great store by - "If you've anything against a
man, or reason to mistrust him," he would say, "don't keep it to
yourself, or hint it to other people behind his back, but go straight to
him and tell him to his face, and have it out with him." He was a wise
man, Andrew Dunlop, as all his acquaintance knew, and I felt that I could
do no better than take a lesson from him in this matter. So I would go
straight to Sir Gilbert Carstairs, and tell him what was in my mind - let
the consequences be what they might.

It was well after sunset, and the gloaming was over the hills and the
river, when I turned into the grounds of Hathercleugh and looked round me
at a place which, though I had lived close to it ever since I was born, I
had never set foot in before. The house stood on a plateau of ground high
above Tweed, with a deep shawl of wood behind it and a fringe of
plantations on either side; house and pleasure-grounds were enclosed by a
high ivied wall on all sides - you could see little of either until you
were within the gates. It looked, in that evening light, a romantic and
picturesque old spot and one in which you might well expect to see
ghosts, or fairies, or the like. The house itself was something between
an eighteenth-century mansion and an old Border fortress; its centre part
was very high in the roof, and had turrets, with outer stairs to them, at
the corners; the parapets were embattled, and in the turrets were
arrow-slits. But romantic as the place was, there was nothing gloomy
about it, and as I passed to the front, between the grey walls and a sunk
balustered garden that lay at the foot of a terrace, I heard through the
open windows of one brilliantly lighted room the click of billiard balls
and the sound of men's light-hearted laughter, and through another the
notes of a piano.

There was a grand butler man met me at the hall door, and looked sourly
at me as I leaned my bicycle against one of the pillars and made up to
him. He was sourer still when I asked to see his master, and he shook his
head at me, looking me up and down as if I were some undesirable.

"You can't see Sir Gilbert at this time of the evening," said he. "What
do you want?"

"Will you tell Sir Gilbert that Mr. Moneylaws, clerk to Mr. Lindsey,
solicitor, wishes to see him on important business?" I answered, looking
him hard in the face. "I think he'll be quick to see me when you give him
that message."

He stared and growled at me a second or two before he went off with an
ill grace, leaving me on the steps. But, as I had expected, he was back
almost at once, and beckoning me to enter and follow him. And follow him
I did, past more flunkeys who stared at me as if I had come to steal the
silver, and through soft-carpeted passages, to a room into which he led
me with small politeness.

"You're to sit down and wait," he said gruffly. "Sir Gilbert will attend
to you presently."

He closed the door on me, and I sat down and looked around. I was in a
small room that was filled with books from floor to ceiling - big books
and little, in fine leather bindings, and the gilt of their letterings
and labels shining in the rays of a tall lamp that stood on a big desk in
the centre. It was a fine room that, with everything luxurious in the way
of furnishing and appointments; you could have sunk your feet in the
warmth of the carpets and rugs, and there were things in it for comfort
and convenience that I had never heard tell of. I had never been in a
rich man's house before, and the grandeur of it, and the idea that it
gave one of wealth, made me feel that there's a vast gulf fixed between
them that have and them that have not. And in the middle of these
philosophies the door suddenly opened, and in walked Sir Gilbert
Carstairs, and I stood up and made my politest bow to him. He nodded
affably enough, and he laughed as he nodded.

"Oh!" said he. "Mr. Moneylaws! I've seen you before - at that inquest the
other day, I think. Didn't I?"

"That is so, Sir Gilbert," I answered. "I was there, with Mr. Lindsey."

"Why, of course, and you gave evidence," he said. "I remember. Well, and
what did you want to see me about, Mr. Moneylaws? Will you smoke a
cigar?" he went on, picking up a box from the table and holding it out to
me. "Help yourself."

"Thank you, Sir Gilbert," I answered, "but I haven't started that yet."

"Well, then, I will," he laughed, and he picked out a cigar, lighted it,
and flinging himself into an easy chair, motioned me to take another
exactly opposite to him. "Now, then, fire away!" he said. "Nobody'll
interrupt us, and my time's yours. You've some message for me?"

I took a good look at him before I spoke. He was a big, fine, handsome
man, some five-and-fifty years of age, I should have said, but uncommonly
well preserved - a clean-shaven, powerful-faced man, with quick eyes and a
very alert glance; maybe, if there was anything struck me particularly
about him, it was the rapidity and watchfulness of his glances, the
determination in his square jaw, and the extraordinary strength and
whiteness of his teeth. He was quick at smiling, and quick, too, in the
use of his hands, which were always moving as he spoke, as if to
emphasize whatever he said. And he made a very fine and elegant figure as
he sat there in his grand evening clothes, and I was puzzled to know
which struck me most - the fact that he was what he was, the seventh
baronet and head of an old family, or the familiar, easy, good-natured
fashion which he treated me, and talked to me, as if I had been a man of
his own rank.

I had determined what to do as I sat waiting him; and now that he had
bidden me to speak, I told him the whole story from start to finish,
beginning with Gilverthwaite and ending with Crone, and sparing no detail
or explanation of my own conduct. He listened in silence, and with more
intentness and watchfulness than I had ever seen a man show in my life,
and now and then he nodded and sometimes smiled; and when I had made an
end he put a sharp question.

"So - beyond Crone - who, I hear, is dead - you've never told a living soul
of this?" he asked, eyeing me closely.

"Not one, Sir Gilbert," I assured him. "Not even - "

"Not even - who?" he inquired quickly.

"Not even my own sweetheart," I said. "And it's the first secret ever I
kept from her."

He smiled at that, and gave me a quick look as if he were trying to get a
fuller idea of me.

"Well," he said, "and you did right. Not that I should care two pins, Mr.
Moneylaws, if you'd told all this out at the inquest. But suspicion is
easily aroused, and it spreads - aye, like wildfire! And I'm a stranger,
as it were, in this country, so far, and there's people might think
things that I wouldn't have them think, and - in short, I'm much obliged
to you. And I'll tell you frankly, as you've been frank with me, how I
came to be at those cross-roads at that particular time and on that
particular night. It's a simple explanation, and could be easily
corroborated, if need be. I suffer from a disturbing form of
insomnia - sleeplessness - it's a custom of mine to go long walks late at
night. Since I came here, I've been out that way almost every night, as
my servants could assure you. I walk, as a rule, from nine o'clock to
twelve - to induce sleep. And on that night I'd been miles and miles out
towards Yetholm, and back; and when you saw me with my map and electric
torch, I was looking for the nearest turn home - I'm not too well
acquainted with the Border yet," he concluded, with a flash of his white
teeth, "and I have to carry a map with me. And - that's how it was; and
that's all."

I rose out of my chair at that. He spoke so readily and ingenuously that
I had no more doubt of the truth of what he was saying than I had of my
own existence.

"Then it's all for me, too, Sir Gilbert," said I. "I shan't say a word
more of the matter to anybody. It's - as if it never existed. I was
thinking all the time there'd be an explanation of it. So I'll be bidding
you good-night."

"Sit you down again a minute," said he, pointing to the easy-chair. "No
need for hurry. You're a clerk to Mr. Lindsey, the solicitor?"

"I am that," I answered.

"Are you articled to him?" he asked.

"No," said I. "I'm an ordinary clerk - of seven years' standing."

"Plenty of experience of office work and routine?" he inquired.

"Aye!" I replied. "No end of that, Sir Gilbert!"

"Are you good at figures and accounts?" he asked.

"I've kept all Mr. Lindsey's - and a good many trust accounts - for the
last five years," I answered, wondering what all this was about.

"In fact, you're thoroughly well up in all clerical matters?" he
suggested. "Keeping books, writing letters, all that sort of thing?"

"I can honestly say I'm a past master in everything of that sort,"
I affirmed.

He gave me a quick glance, as if he were sizing me up altogether.

"Well, I'll tell you what, Mr. Moneylaws," he said. "The fact is, I'm
wanting a sort of steward, and it strikes me that you're just the man I'm
looking for!"




CHAPTER XIV

DEAD MAN'S MONEY


I was so much amazed by this extraordinary suggestion, that for the
moment I could only stand staring at him, and before I could find my
tongue he threw a quick question at me.

"Lindsey wouldn't stand in your way, would he?" he asked. "Such jobs
don't go begging, you know."

"Mr. Lindsey wouldn't stand in my way, Sir Gilbert," I answered. "But - "

"But what?" said he, seeing me hesitate. "Is it a post you wouldn't care
about, then? There's five hundred a year with it - and a permanency."

Strange as it may seem, considering all the circumstances, it never
occurred to me for one moment that the man was buying my silence, buying
me. There wasn't the ghost of such a thought in my head - I let out what
was there in my next words.

"I'd like such a post fine, Sir Gilbert," I said. "What I'm thinking
of - could I give satisfaction?"

He laughed at that, as if my answer amused him.

"Well, there's nothing like a spice of modesty, Moneylaws," said he. "If
you can do all we've just talked of, you'll satisfy me well enough. I
like the looks of you, and I'm sure you're the sort that'll do the thing
thoroughly. The post's at your disposal, if you like to take it."

I was still struggling with my amazement. Five hundred pounds a
year! - and a permanency! It seemed a fortune to a lad of my age. And I
was trying to find the right words in which to say all that I felt, when
he spoke again.

"Look here!" he said. "Don't let us arrange this as if we'd done it
behind your present employer's back - I wouldn't like Mr. Lindsey to think
I'd gone behind him to get you. Let it be done this way: I'll call on Mr.
Lindsey myself, and tell him I'm wanting a steward for the property, and
that I've heard good reports of his clerk, and that I'll engage you on
his recommendation. He's the sort that would give you a strong word by
way of reference, eh?"

"Oh, he'll do that, Sir Gilbert!" I exclaimed. "Anything that'll
help me on - "

"Then let's leave it at that," said he. "I'll drop in on him at his
office - perhaps to-morrow. In the meantime, keep your own counsel.
But - you'll take my offer?"

"I'd be proud and glad to, Sir Gilbert," said I. "And if you'll make
allowance for a bit of inexperience - "

"You'll do your best, eh?" he laughed. "That's all right, Moneylaws."

He walked out with me to the door, and on to the terrace. And as I
wheeled my bicycle away from the porch, he took a step or two alongside
me, his hands in his pockets, his lips humming a careless tune. And
suddenly he turned on me.

"Have you heard any more about that affair last night?" he asked. "I mean
about Crone?"

"Nothing, Sir Gilbert," I answered.

"I hear that the opinion is that the man was struck down by a gaff," he
remarked. "And perhaps killed before he was thrown into the Till."

"So the doctor seemed to think," I said. "And the police, too, I
believe."

"Aye, well," said he, "I don't know if the police are aware of it, but
I'm very sure there's night-poaching of salmon going on hereabouts,
Moneylaws. I've fancied it for some time, and I've had thoughts of
talking to the police about it. But you see, my land doesn't touch either
Till or Tweed, so I haven't cared to interfere. But I'm sure that it is
so, and it wouldn't surprise me if both these men, Crone and Phillips,
met their deaths at the hands of the gang I'm thinking of. It's a notion
that's worth following up, anyway, and I'll have a word with Murray about
it when I'm in the town tomorrow."

Then, with a brief good night, he left me and went into the house, and I
got outside Hathercleugh and rode home in a whirl of thoughts. And I'll
confess readily that those thoughts had little to do with what Sir
Gilbert Carstairs had last talked about - they were not so much of
Phillips, nor of Crone, nor of his suggestion of a possible gang of
night-poachers, as about myself and this sudden chance of a great change
in my fortunes. For, when all is said and done, we must needs look after
ourselves, and when a young man of the age I was then arrived at is asked
if he would like to exchange a clerkship of a hundred and twenty a year
for a stewardship at more than four times as much - as a permanency - you
must agree that his mind will fix itself on what such an exchange means
to him, to the exclusion of all other affairs. Five hundred a year to me
meant all sorts of fine things - independence, and a house of my own, and,
not least by a long way, marriage with Maisie Dunlop. And it was a wonder
that I managed to keep cool, and to hold my tongue when I got home - but
hold it I did, and to some purpose, and more than once. During the half
hour which I managed to get with Maisie last thing that night, she asked
me why I was so silent, and, hard though it was to keep from doing so, I
let nothing out.

The truth was, Sir Gilbert Carstairs had fascinated me, not only with his
grand offer, but with his pleasant, off-hand, companionable manners. He
had put me at my ease at once; he had spoken so frankly and with such
evident sincerity about his doings on that eventful night, that I
accepted every word he said. And - in the little that I had thought of
it - I was very ready to accept his theory as to how those two men had
come by their deaths - and it was one that was certainly feasible, and
worth following up. Some years before, I remembered, something of the
same sort had gone on, and had resulted in an affray between
salmon-poachers and river-watchers - why should it not have cropped up
again? The more I thought of it, the more I felt Sir Gilbert's
suggestion to have reason in it. And in that case all the mystery would
be knocked clean out of these affairs - the murder of Phillips, the death
of Crone, might prove to be the outcome of some vulgar encounter between
them and desperadoes who had subsequently scuttled to safety and were
doubtless quaking near at hand, in fear of their misdeeds coming to
light; what appeared to be a perfect tangle might be the simplest matter
in the world. So I judged - and next morning there came news that seemed
to indicate that matters were going to be explained on the lines which
Sir Gilbert had suggested.

Chisholm brought that news to our office, just after Mr. Lindsey had come
in. He told it to both of us; and from his manner of telling it, we both
saw - I, perhaps, not so clearly as Mr. Lindsey - that the police were
already at their favourite trick of going for what seemed to them the
obvious line of pursuit.

"I'm thinking we've got on the right clue at last, as regards the murder
of yon man Phillips," announced Chisholm, with an air of satisfaction.
"And if it is the right clue, as it seems to be, Mr. Lindsey, there'll be
no great mystery in the matter, after all. Just a plain case of murder
for the sake of robbery - that's it!"

"What's your clue?" asked Mr. Lindsey quietly.

"Well," answered Chisholm, with a sort of sly wink, "you'll understand,
Mr. Lindsey, that we haven't been doing nothing these last few days,
since yon inquest on Phillips, you know. As a matter of fact, we've
been making inquiries wherever there seemed a chance of finding
anything out. And we've found something out - through one of the banks
yonder at Peebles."

He looked at us as if to see if we were impressed; seeing, at any rate,
that we were deeply interested, he went on.

"It appears - I'll tell you the story in order, as it were," he said - "it
appears that about eight months ago the agent of the British Linen Bank
at Peebles got a letter from one John Phillips, written from a place
called Colon, in Panama - that's Central America, as you'll be
aware - enclosing a draft for three thousand pounds on the International
Banking Corporation of New York. The letter instructed the Peebles agent
to collect this sum and to place it in his bank to the writer's credit.
Furthermore, it stated that the money was to be there until Phillips came
home to Scotland, in a few months' time from the date of writing. This,
of course, was all done in due course - there was the three thousand
pounds in Phillips's name. There was a bit of correspondence between him
at Colon and the bank at Peebles - then, at last, he wrote that he was
leaving Panama for Scotland, and would call on the bank soon after his


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